I had to wait 6 weeks for the weather to calm down a bit. The upside is that what was soft, fluffy, not-so-easy to snowshoe snow has now settled into really nice Spring snow. Brown Mountain sits on the south side of Highway 140, directly south of Mount McLoughlin. Its summit benchmark is 7,311 feet but it’s actually a bit higher than that – and it has a crater! In summer, it’s an almost unclimbable cone of rumpled, sharp lava but in winter, with a good snow cover, it’s a very fun snowshoe (or ski – we’ll get to the snowmobiles later).
The crux move of this hike was dodging the logging trucks on Highway 140 and getting over the 6-foot wall of snow/ice left by the plows. It used to be said that you could park along the highway but there are now “no parking” signs in several places and the snow plows leave little room on the shoulder. Seems like a dodgy proposition to save $5 at the Sno-Park.
After that, however, it was a gentle, but ever steepening, cruise on untracked snow.
About 1.5 miles in, the summit came into view,
and, about 500 feet from the summit, the snowmobile tracks. My cruise up new untracked snow had blinded me to the fact that, while Mount McLoughlin across the highway is in a wilderness area, Brown Mountain is not and is thus open to snowmobiles – lots of snowmobiles. Fortunately, I was climbing on a Monday but it must have been a wild (and noisy) weekend on the slopes!
What makes a particularly fun snowshoe is that after a brief trudge through the forest lower down, the views just keep getting bigger and bigger.
From the summit ridge, I had a great view north toward Pelican Butte and snowy Lake of the Woods.
A short hike up the ridge brought me to the actual summit, for a full frontal view of the Mountain Lakes Wilderness to the east,
Mount Shasta to the south,
and Mount Ashland to the west, with Brown’s crater in the foreground.
The numerous snowmobile tracks coming off the slightly steep part below the summit provided lots of firm stuff for my MSR Ascent snowshoes to get a grip on as I started my descent.
A little lower, and it was back in untracked snow,
for the glide,
back to the trailhead at Summit Sno-Park. A short (5.5 miles roundtrip, 2,300 feet of elevation gain) but wonderful snowshoe on a perfect – and snowmobile free – bluebird day.